Top Iran expert Emily Landau dies at 59

She was known as a fierce critic of 2015 Iran nuclear deal, but at the same time she had recommended fixing the deal instead of leaving it outright as US President Donald Trump did in May 2018.

Emily B. Landau ahead of the 2018 INSS Conference. (photo credit: INSS)
Emily B. Landau ahead of the 2018 INSS Conference.
(photo credit: INSS)
Emily Landau – a top Iran expert – passed away on Monday night, of a long illness at the age of 59.
Landau was director of the Arms Control Program at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) think tank, which she joined in 1986.
Landau was one of the most frequently consulted experts on an Iran-related issue for The Jerusalem Post. She interviewed on a wide array of television programs with other print media, and organized her own conferences which always included top US, Israeli and global officials. She was known as a fierce critic of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, but at the same time, had recommended fixing the deal instead of leaving it outright, as US President Donald Trump did in May 2018.
Landau most objected to the nuclear deal’s endorsement of Iran having the right to enrich uranium and its sunset clause, in which its restrictions expired between 2023-2030. While she would not have withdrawn from the deal, she strongly supported Trump’s maximum pressure campaign, and his public combativeness toward Iran, as fixing the Obama administration’s fear of confronting the Islamic republic too firmly. She was concerned that some of Trump’s other public battles, including his trade war with China, could distract from his ability to isolate Iran.
Beside Iran, Landau was also an expert on North Korea’s nuclear weapons program and often gave incisive analysis about links between the nuclear tracks in Tehran and Pyongyang.
One of Landau’s signature characteristics was her dry humor and sharp wit, which she especially employed with UN, IAEA and EU officials, who she viewed as going too soft on Iran.
She also had an encyclopedic memory of key arms control documents like the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and knew how to parse Iranian statements with an uncanny depth that revealed their true purposes, often dressed up in distractions.
Forbes Israel magazine named her one of the country’s 50 most influential women in 2015, and she discussed not only the Iran nuclear issue, but the challenges she had confronted over the years as a woman in the security arena which has a majority population of men.
INSS announced her passing, saying, “The Director and staff of INSS are deeply grieved over the loss of their colleague, and express their condolences to Emily’s family. She will be sorely missed at the Institute.”
It was unclear who would step into Landau’s shoes, but in recent years, Sima Shine, a former Mossad official, had also become active for INSS on Iran-related issues.
Landau was born to Mark and Barbara Biran, in Boston. The family moved to Israel with her when she was 14. Mark Biran was one of the founders of Tel Aviv University’s engineering department. Landau earned a BA in political science and English literature, an MA in political science from Tel Aviv University, and a doctorate in international relations from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She is survived by her husband, Giora Landau, and two children.
Landau’s funeral was held on Tuesday at the Kfar Nahman cemetery in Ra’anana.


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